Unlike negligence cases arising from car, truck, or motorcycle accidents, the compensation available in a workers' compensation case is highly structured and is even subject to certain minimum and maximum benefits. (Because of factors like inflation and cost of living increases, the amount of minimum and maximum weekly compensation benefits varies over time.)
The amount due a particular worker also depends on his or her rate of pay at the time of the accident, the amount of permanent impairment suffered by the worker, and whether or not the worker was able to go back to his or her regular job after the injury.
Temporary Disability Benefits
A worker who has been hurt on the job may be entitled to either temporary total disability payments (if his or her authorized treating physician determines that he or she is unable to work) or temporary partial disability payments (if the employee is able to return to work, but in a lower-paying job than before the work injury).
Temporary total disability benefits are set at 2/3 of the employee's average weekly wage before the work accident, but such benefits are subject to a "state minimum" and a "state maximum." Currently, the minimum is $50, and the maximum is $575. (For comparison, the minimum and maximum 10 years ago were $45 and $450.) The current maximum for temporary partial disability payments is $383 (up from $300 at this time in 2007).
Permanent Disability Benefits
When a person who has been hurt on the job suffers a permanent disability due to an accident, the employee may be able to collect either permanent total disability benefits (if the employee is unable to return to work) or permanent partial disability benefits. Except in catastrophic injury cases, permanent total disability benefits are subject to a maximum of 400 weeks (calculated from the date of injury).
Permanent partial disability benefits, which are subject to a maximum of 350 weeks from the date of injury and capped at $134,050, are determined in part based on the employee's percentage of disability as determined by his or her authorized treating physician. In assigning the appropriate disability level, the physician is to rely on a book called the American Medical Association Guides to Permanent Physical Impairment.
When an employee is killed on the job, the employer is responsible for his or her funeral expenses and must pay certain death benefits if the deceased worker left behind eligible dependents (such as a dependent spouse and/or minor children). The amount due can vary substantially based on the worker's family situation and rate of pay at the time of the accident. There is also a total maximum benefit set by the State of Georgia (currently $230,000 in death benefits plus $7500 for burial expense - up from $135,000 plus $7500 ten years ago).
Get Reliable Legal Advice Following an Atlanta Work Injury
Workers' compensation laws can be complicated. If you have been hurt at work, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible so that you can fully understand your legal rights. Atlanta workers' compensation lawyer T. Andrew Miller, LLC, is currently reviewing work injury cases throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area. To schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation, call us at (678) 894-4758.